Tag Archives: Emoluments Clause

First emoluments clause case gets a hearing in court

Our Twitter-troll-in-chief successfully manufactured a grand distraction of the media this past week by engaging in outrageus behavior with his “Gold Star family” scandal to stop them from reporting on subjects he does not want them to cover.

A subject the media failed to cover this past week while distracted by bright shiny objects was the first court hearing in one of the first emoluments clause cases filed against Donald Trump for his profiting off of his position as president.

Dahlia Lithwick reports, Would $1 Million in Hot Dogs Violate the Emoluments Clause?

In a federal courthouse in Manhattan on Wednesday morning, lawyers for the Department of Justice tried to persuade Federal District Judge George B. Daniels to toss the civil lawsuit accusing the president of violating the Constitution by accepting foreign money while in office. Perhaps the high point of the morning came when a Trump lawyer conceded that if the president were to accept $1 million in hot dogs purchased from an imaginary Trump hot dog business as a gift to sign a foreign treaty, he would probably run afoul of the most obscure constitutional provision you’ve never heard of. Metaphor, meet the president of the United States.

You may recall that back in November everyone was casting about trying to find a name for the phenomenon wherein a presidential candidate who promises to release his tax returns if elected and declines to do so, then promises to divest himself of his foreign business interests from which he would profit as president and fails to do so, and then stands next to a tower of empty folders and tells us ethics rules don’t apply to the White House and he doesn’t care if you’re mad about that. You may also recall that this was around the time the word emoluments became something other than that stuff you use to keep your skin smooth and supple.

The Foreign Emoluments Clause can be found in Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution, and it bars anyone holding an “office” from accepting presents or emoluments from “any King, Prince or Foreign State” without “the consent of Congress.” (The Constitution actually has three separate emoluments clauses, but only the foreign and domestic clauses came up in oral arguments on Wednesday.) In the simplest possible terms, the Emoluments Clause prohibits government officials from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments. Here’s the sticky bit: We don’t have a lot of doctrine in this area because it’s never been litigated, chiefly because most presidents haven’t wanted to look like they were cashing in on the office with club fees, Chinese trademarks, and jacked-up hotel drink prices. But this president doesn’t care about any of that.

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(Update) Draining the Trump Swamp: Democrats file Emoluments Clause lawsuit

I posted about these lawsuits the other day, Draining the Trump Swamp: Emoluments Clause lawsuits are heating up, which referenced another lawsuit yet to be filed by Democrats in Congress.

That lawsuit has now been filed. Democrats in Congress Sue Trump Over Foreign Business Dealings:

Nearly 200 Democratic members of Congress filed a federal lawsuit (.pdf) on Wednesday accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution by profiting from business dealings with foreign governments.

The plaintiffs — believed to be the most members of Congress to ever sue a sitting president — contend that Mr. Trump has ignored a constitutional clause that prohibits federal officials from accepting gifts, or emoluments, from foreign powers without congressional approval.

It is the third such lawsuit against Mr. Trump on the issue since he became president, part of a coordinated effort by the president’s critics to force him to reveal his business entanglements and either sell off his holdings or put them in a blind trust.

Like the previous two federal lawsuits, this one, filed in federal court in Washington, accuses Mr. Trump of illegally profiteering from his businesses in a variety of ways, including collecting payments from foreign diplomats who stay in his hotels and accepting trademark approvals from foreign governments for his company’s goods and services.

But it creates a new group of plaintiffs who claim the president’s actions have damaged them: Democratic members of the House and Senate who say they have been wrongly deprived of their constitutional right to rule on whether Mr. Trump can accept such economic benefits from foreign governments, according to Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who led the effort with Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan.

Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, provides: “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

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Draining the Trump Swamp: Emoluments Clause lawsuits are heating up

On Friday, the Trump Justice Department argued that President Trump’s businesses are legally permitted to accept payments from foreign governments while he is in office, and thus Trump is not in violation of a constitutional clause barring the acceptance of emoluments. Foreign payments to Trump’s businesses are legally permitted, argues Justice Department:

In a 70-page legal brief responding to a liberal watchdog group’s lawsuit, the administration said that market-rate payments for goods or services made to the president’s real estate, hotel and golf companies do not constitute emoluments as defined by the Constitution.

US Constitution

Advocates from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) brought the suit against Trump in January, shortly after he entered office. The group asserted that because Trump-owned buildings take in rent, room rentals and other payments from foreign governments — which may seek to curry favor with him — the president has breached the emoluments clause.

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Justice Department attorneys referenced a series of Washington’s letters and speeches to support their argument.

“Neither the text nor the history of the Clauses shows that they were intended to reach benefits arising from a President’s private business pursuits having nothing to do with his office or personal service to a foreign power,” the administration argued. “Were Plaintiffs’ interpretation correct, Presidents from the very beginning of the Republic, including George Washington, would have received prohibited ‘emolument.’”

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Trump tweets are creating foreign policy crises

Another day, another foreign policy crisis created by our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief. Steve Benen explains, Trump makes Middle Eastern crisis worse with strange tweets:

When Donald Trump returned from his first overseas trip as president, he and his aides were quick to applaud themselves for a sojourn they described as a “historic” success. This was a trip for the ages, Trump World said. The stuff legends are made of. Ballads will someday be written to honor Trump’s nine-day journey.

If you asked the president and his aides why they were so impressed with themselves, they tended to point to Trump’s time in Saudi Arabia. Exactly two weeks ago today, a senior administration official, talking to reporters aboard Air Force One, declared with a straight face, “Donald Trump united the entire Muslim world in a way that it really hasn’t been in many years.”

Even at the time, the comments seemed almost delusional, but today, they’re even worse.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.20.20 AMh/t Salon

Yesterday, in an unexpected development, five Middle Eastern countries – Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen – broke off ties with Qatar, hoping to isolate the country politically and economically. The countries said they were isolating Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism.

Wait, it is Saudi Arabia that is the sponsor of Wahabi fundamentalism, and was home to 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers, who had financial support from highly placed Saudis according to the “28 pages” on Saudi involvement in the 9/11 terrorist assault. What We Know About Saudi Arabia’s Role in 9/11. Oddly enough, Trump’s immigration ban doesn’t include the country most of the 9/11 hijackers came from. Qatar, on the other hand, hosts the largest US military base in Mideast.

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